Monday, May 18, 2015

Protecting ourselves from the apparent confluence of Modern and Open Orthodoxy

Rabbi Topolosky of Hebrew Academy
Guest post by Joe Orlow

I often get asked what can be done to protect ourselves from the apparent confluence of Modern Orthodoxy and Open Orthodoxy.

My answer is "Hava Nis'chakma", we must be proactive. We cannot wait till the next divisive divorce leads to hordes of ORA protestors arriving to harass a husband.

About two years ago there was an ORA protest in Washington DC. A local Orthodox day school gave some of the older students an opportunity to join the protest. I approached some of the students. This dismayed a top administrator who chaperoned the students. But I think he didn't do much to actually stop me because of a concern that his actions to muzzle me would have been perceived by the students to be hypocritical. "This school which teaches us to taste knowledge from many areas of study and trusts us to evaluate this knowledge now tells us not to listen to Joe Orlow?" Furthermore, making me forbidden fruit could possibly make my "illicit" teachings all the more attractive.

In truth, my appetite was whetted. These students asked me tough questions and paid close attention when I filled them in on the circumstances leading up to the wife demanding a Get. I realized that reaching out to students is the way to take the wind out of Open Orthodoxy's sails.

In the next phase, I would like to reach out to my friends gathered under the Daas Torah tent. Help me put together a campaign against Open Orthodoxy. Here is my idea. I seek and value your feedback.

1. I will contact the BDA explaining that the BDA's recent behavior of issuing a summons to a non-existent husband raises serious and substantial questions about the Halachic status of the BDA. Furthermore, the apparent failure of the BDA to publicly admit the BDA's wrongdoing, and the failure to explain how the BDA is going to ensure this doesn't happen again, should lead all thinking people to distance themselves from the BDA.

2. I will contact the administrators and teachers at the local Orthodox day school and tell them I will be reaching out to their students to warn their students not to use the BDA. In particular, boys and girls will be warned not to specify the BDA as their Bais Din if and when they sign any pre-nuptials.

3. I will contact students directly, teaching them the Halachic dangers inherent in the BDA pre-nuptials. I will teach them about the Halachos of when and how a Get may be forced, and when it may not be forced. I will include much of the information about the Halachos of Gittin which I've learned on this blog, and from taking Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn's ongoing telephone classes.

So, you've heard from me. I await your comments. Moe? Kishkeyum? Now is not the time for kid gloves. You've given it to me straight before; I expect nothing less here. I may only get one real chance to reach out to the young people in my town. I may not be the right one to be doing this, but at least I want to give it my best shot.

Joe Orlow

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